Re: RARA-AVIS: Cave's 'Bottled in Blonde'

From: Ron Clinton (
Date: 26 Nov 2000

Picked this one up a few weeks ago and enjoyed it tremendously. Its strengths are all outlined in the review below - and its nod to yesteryear's attitudes and mores (sp?) are a delight. Cave's workmanship skills as a pulp writer are as finely tuned here as in his seminal horror collection, MURGUMSTRUMM AND OTHERS.

Ron Clinton

> Top of the Pulps
> Hard-boiled PI fans interested in the subgenre's origins in the
> pulp-fiction magazines put out between the two world wars might want to
> look at Bottled in Blonde (Fedogan & Bremer, $29), which contains nine
> stories written by Hugh B. Cave for Dime Detective magazine between 1934
> and 1942. Now 90 years old, Cave made his name during and after World
> War II as a nonfiction writer and still later as a horror novelist. But
> his earliest stories, featuring raw, crude, alcoholic Peter Kane, Boston
> ex-cop and anti-social private eye, were popular in the '30s, and it's
> easy to see why.
> They're written with vulgar energy and non-Beacon-Hill-Boston savvy, and
> with traces of the mean-streets poetry that a few writers like Raymond
> Chandler mastered and turned into American literature. In his
> introduction, Don Hutchison doubts that Kane's lurching around Boston
> perpetually drunk would pass muster in "today's politically correct
> climate." Nope, it wouldn't. Kane drives while "soused" and spends every
> spare minute in a Stuart Street dive called Limpy's. But there are
> razor-sharp sketches here, like the one of Lou Finch, "a big, sober,
> hard-working cop with no flair for showmanship," and the mean flatfoot
> Moroni, who says things like "Put that between your toes and use
> Absorbine Junior on it!" A "girl" named Mabel Jilson won't take any crap
> from Moroni. She snaps, "I used to be on the stage and I done a
> knife-throwing act. Make something of that, Glue-face!" Glue-face! Where
> have all the Mabels gone?

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